Frequently Asked Questions
Is now a good time to run a referendum considering everything going on?
Yes, now is an excellent time because:
Interest rates are at an all-time low for borrowing money. This will help the District maximize their dollars (assuming rates remain where they are today).
The commercial construction industry is slow (unlike residential). Other Districts are seeing outstanding bids, and projects are coming in well under budget.
This provides local stimulus dollars for our community and an opportunity to keep work for the local trade contractors.
The needs are real and should be addressed sooner than later. The issues are not going away; if we can maximize our dollars and improve our students’ education, now is a good time.
Do we need to move out of Nelson Primary School?
Building systems and maintenance at Nelson is starting to pile up, and the District does not have enough dollars to complete all the projects (3 million dollars worth). It would be throwing good money at bad. The modular wood building behind Nelson is in very poor shape and not a suitable environment for our young students.
Do we need another multi-purpose space?
For many years, Grantsburg School District has not had sufficient multi-use space for physical education, athletics, co-curricular, and community use. It is currently a struggle to schedule this space.
What is the project timeline?
If the referendum passes in April 2021, the design will take place over the next six months, public bidding of all projects in the winter of 2022, and construction starting spring of 2022. There would be a phased completion of all projects from Fall of 2022 to Summer of 2023.
Why did the District hire professional managers and architects already?
The District knew they had needs (maintenance in all buildings, Nelson Elementary issues, and other space needs) almost two years ago already. The administration team and school board reached out to professional companies to help with these studies. After a lengthy proposal and interview process, the District selected DSGW Architects and Kraus-Anderson. At this point, a Community Task Force was formed who listened to the District’s needs and voted on this referendum plan approved by the school board.
Will the District save money by closing Nelson?
The District will save money on snow plowing, lawn maintenance, and building maintenance. This could save the District approximately $25,000 per year. However, the District will NOT eliminate any employees that were at Nelson; they all will be moving to Grantsburg Elementary.
What other opportunities are the students and community getting?
Our students will get much-improved learning spaces with more options being on one campus. Additional multi-purpose gym space will also give a lot more opportunities for students and the community.
What is the addition on the front of the High School?
This is a secured and safe entrance for our students, staff, and community. The addition will have a controlled entry point where visitors will be buzzed into the new office area then buzzed into the building once proper identification is completed.
What happens if the referendum fails?
We will have to gather our thoughts and research why it failed. Nevertheless, the needs are not going away and will only be more expensive in the future.
Have other Districts in Wisconsin gone out for a referendum during COVID?
Yes, last year, there were over $900 million in referenda in Wisconsin, of which 85% passed.
What is the grade configuration going to look like with Nelson closing?
Grantsburg Elementary School will be Early Childhood – 1st grades
Grantsburg Middle School will be 2nd – 8th grades to become Grantsburg Intermediate/Middle School
Grantsburg High School will be 9th - 12th grades
Will elementary students be with intermediate/middle school students?
Many rural districts across the state have similar grade configurations or even PreK through 12th grade in one building. Elementary students, such as the 2nd and 3rd grades, will be in their own wing of the building. Elementary and middle school students will not be sharing classrooms. There are many benefits of having older students with younger students, such as students teaching students in math and reading programs. Grantsburg School District teachers are great, which will also allow staff to support each other as needed.
How long did the community task force meet, and how many options were considered?
The community task force met at least 7 or 8 times over the last year. They reviewed over 15 options in total before deciding on this option. Options ranged from $15 million to over $40 million.
If we pass the referendum we get State Aid, is that included in your tax impact calculations?
Yes it is, based upon current State data, it is projected that approximately 50% of the debt payment will come back to the District in the form of “State Equalization Aid.” Or “It is estimated that approximately 50% of the debt payment will be supported by State Equalization Aid.”
I have concerns about the lunchroom getting seven grades through with breakfast and lunch. It did not look like there would be any updates to this area. In a typical year, we have kids standing in line for 10 of their 20 minutes to eat. How will we be sure that we can serve two more grades of students when it is already a slow process? Are we planning to hire more staff? Will there be two doors open to go through? I am just wondering what the plan for this is?
We have contingency dollars to help address the cafeteria situation, including reviewing, remodeling, and improving the food service’s flow. In terms of hiring more staff, no one is being let go in this plan, so Nelson’s staff could help at the Intermediate/Middle School building.
My understanding is that we will function as a 2-5 building and a 6-8 building. How do we envision this working with staff/paras/admin? We are curious about what the District plans to do with the staff (not necessarily specific to certain people- but position-wise).
Staff will be reconfigured to support all students and their needs. It will take some time, though, after the referendum, to determine how that will exactly look. Again, no one is being let go, nor are positions going away.
Are the gyms going to have wood floors or something different?
Wood floors are in the plan but open to other discussions as the staff sees fit during the design process.
Can we see a better drawing of exactly which classrooms will be where in the Intermediate/Middle School plan? I can see where changes and updates will be made, but I am not sure what these will contain.
The disadvantage school districts have is ample dollars during the pre-referendum process to further design. After the referendum passes, we assure you that staff will be engaged to strategize on an optimum plan.
I know that traffic flow is a big concern; are we addressing this in any way?
Yes, that is a significant part of the plan and budget. We will make sure to visit with staff and user groups to discuss the ideas.
Will the classrooms added be larger? We find our students are taking up more space than in the past because of technology sitting next to them. Has this been accounted for?
Yes, the new addition and remodeled classrooms will be larger to accommodate student needs.
Will there be updates to the furniture in classrooms to accommodate technology better (Student tables/desks/chairs/workspaces)? Are there dollars for remodeled and new areas for furniture and technology?
New and remodeled rooms will receive new furniture and technology. Existing classrooms will not get any updates. The District may consider other ideas to fund these items for existing rooms over time. Please remember, the community survey helped determine ideas and tax tolerance. Therefore, the task force was being strategic in the final option to optimize the plan and budget.
Will there be updates to the outdoor area? 2nd graders have different needs than 8th graders.
There are some referendum dollars in the budget to address the playground needs for all students.
Storage can be an issue, has this been thought of? Specifically in classrooms and the athletic areas? It maybe has, but I wasn’t sure as the drawings weren’t labeled, so I wasn’t sure what I was looking at.
We agree, most districts struggle with storage. We have that in our notes to bring up and take a look at during the design process.
Can the project go over budget? What happens if the project goes over budget?
The project can not go over budget. Once the referendum passes, that is the budget. The project team will ensure competitive bids come in under budget. However, if the economy says otherwise and bids come in higher than expected, the project team will do appropriate value engineering to get the project back on budget. Please note, the referendum does include an industry-standard contingency to help protect the District.
How many years will we be paying back this bond?
State statutes only allow a School District to amortize debt over 20 years.